Our guide to culinary courses


Britain has had a long love affair with food. In recent centuries we have embraced culinary imports and today enjoy a culturally diverse menu. Indeed, up and down the country, we enjoy eating in Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, and French restaurants, to name but a few. And, with celebrity chefs like Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay regular fixtures on our television screens, we are not short of inspiration to get cooking in our own homes.

Did you know? The number of cookery books sold by Jamie Oliver reached 10 million in 2012, with total book sales of £126 million.

With the economy in difficult times, there’s an added motivator to stop eating out so much and start preparing our own food – cooking at home from scratch can save precious pennies at a time when we need it most. And, last but not least, cooking at home is often a healthier option, as you can be sure you know what’s going into your food without the need to use lots of preservatives or chemicals.

Whether you want to learn to cook at home for yourself, embark on a career as a chef, or want to continue your professional development within the catering industry, going on a culinary course can equip you with the knowledge and skills you’re looking for.


Popular culinary courses

There is a huge range of culinary courses to choose from and we’ve picked out some of the most popular areas to give you some inspiration.


·         Culinary career courses – there are a number of areas to specialise in with a career in the food industry, and courses are available to enhance your skills and knowledge in order to help you land the job you want. Courses available include barista courses, bartending courses and butchery courses. And of course, you can also take the skills you learn on any other culinary course and turn it into a small business idea – whether your interest lies in cupcakes or catering for dinner parties, skills from many culinary courses can be transferred. If you are interested in training as a chef, there are also a number of accredited cookery qualifications that you can study for, to help you on your way to a career as a chef.


·         World foods – some culinary courses give you the opportunity to explore the foods of far flung corners of the world without having to set foot on a plane. Along with recipes and the skills to go and make foreign fare in the comfort of your own kitchen, courses looking at different world foods will give you an insight into the culture and traditions in these countries. Courses are available in any number of world cuisines, with popular courses including European foods as well as cuisine from further afar.


·         Baking courses – between Nigella, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, we’ve gone mad for baking in recent years. Whether you are looking to take a general baking course, or want to specialise in a particular area of baking by taking a bread making course or cupcake making course, there’s plenty to choose from. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can even go a step further and learn to embellish your sweet creations on a sugar craft course.


·         Specialist culinary courses – there are a number of unique culinary courses that focus on specific areas of cooking or food production. For instance, a foraging course will get you out and about in the countryside, teaching you about food that is readily and freely available in the UK. Other specialist food courses include diet cooking, knife skills, and larder cooking (which is kind of like foraging, apart from you do the foraging in your own home, as well as the cooking!)


Who's who in the culinary world

There are different levels of ‘chef’ in a professional kitchen:

-          head chef (chef de cuisine) - in charge of the kitchen and responsible for the other chefs

-          sous chef - second-in-command

-          chefs de partie - responsible for a particular area of production, examples of chefs de partie include sauté chef, fish chef, pastry chef, and grill chef.

-          commis chef - a basic chef in a larger kitchen, often filled by a recent recruit to catering or someone who is still undergoing training

-          kitchen assistant – a kitchen assistant is not a chef, but this role is often the first step taken in a catering career, with kitchen assistants often being promoted to commis chef

By Fiona Hughes

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